tennessee smokiesThe Daytona Cubs released a “tentative” roster, the Kane County Cougars released a “preliminary” roster, and now the Tennessee Smokies have released their “initial” Opening Day roster for 2014. The Smokies open on Thursday.

First, the roster, then the comments:


Corey Black, RHP
Lendy Castillo, RHP
Hunter Cervenka, LHP
C.J. Edwards, RHP
P.J. Francescon, RHP
Matt Loosen, RHP
Jeffrey Lorick, LHP
Ivan Pineyro, RHP
Dae-Eun Rhee, RHP
Armando Rivero, RHP
Ryan Searle, RHP
Tony Zych, RHP


Charles Cutler
Rafael Lopez


Stephen Bruno
Kris Bryant
Wes Darvill
Dustin Geiger
Jonathan Mota
Jeudy Valdez


John Andreoli
Zeke DeVoss
Rubi Silva
Jorge Soler

You’re probably immediately noticing a huge absence: Pierce Johnson. No worries, AA is where the Cubs’ second best pitching prospect will start the year, but he’s been slowed by a minor hamstring issue in Spring Training. He was expected to miss a start or two, so he’ll hang back in Mesa for a little while before being assigned to Tennessee. As of today, there are no concerns whatsoever.

Otherwise, that Daytona rotation makes its way up to Tennessee, including C.J. Edwards, Corey Black, Ivan Pineyro and Matt Loosen. Ben Wells, like Johnson, is missing, which I’m guessing is also temporary, since he was not on Daytona’s roster, either.

There are several interesting relievers on the roster, headlined by Armando Rivero. Tony Zych, Lendy Castillo, Hunter Cervenka, and Ryan Searle are all intriguing.

In the outfield, we see the effects of the crunch at AAA Iowa. Soler was expected, and DeVoss sounds about right. Andreoli and Silva probably did enough last year to warrant promotions to Iowa, however. But, with guys like Josh Vitters, Brett Jackson, Matt Szczur, and Chris Coghlan all grabbing regular starts up there, it was going to be hard to sort out the playing time. Silva could stand to add a little discipline to his game, and Andreoli is more of a fourth outfielder type (albeit potentially a good one), so leaving them at AA makes sense.

In the infield, obviously the big name is Kris Bryant, and starting at AA was expected. Stephen Bruno might be the most interesting name after missing most of 2013 (Tommy John surgery), but hitting the lights out of the ball in his limited professional experience so far. Dustin Geiger continues his unheralded climb, and he’ll be the regular first baseman for the Smokies this year.

Behind the plate, I’m a little surprised that Rafael Lopez wasn’t promoted to Iowa, but perhaps he’s still got work to do behind the plate. Charles Cutler was a minor league Rule 5 pick by the Cubs this year.

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